Way back in October 2001, a prominent and widely respected liberal
London rabbi, Dr David Goldberg, made what I thought at the time was
the most remarkable statement ever made by a Jew in the 53 years
that had passed since the creation, mainly by terrorism and ethnic
cleansing, of the Zionist (not Jewish) state of Israel. He said that
Israel’s “colonization” of Palestine had left many Jews “questioning
their unconditional support for Israel”. Then this: “It may be time
for Judaism and Zionism to go their separate ways.”
The report I read of Goldberg’s remarks
was by Andrew Johnson in The
Independent on Sunday. Its headline
for his story was “British Jews at odds after rabbi criticizes
Israel’s ‘colonization’”. As the report indicated, what Goldberg
said had provoked a “passionate argument” in the pages of the Jewish
Chronicle, editorially a standard
bearer for Israel right or wrong.
…it can be said without fear of contradiction that Zionism,
founded in the knowledge that it would have to resort to ethnic
cleansing to achieve its goal, never had a moral compass.
I once had the pleasure of talking with
Rabbi Goldberg over lunch, just the two of us. From my research I
knew that he was what I like to call a GHB (Good Human Being) and a
man worthy of respect. He was, for example, the first prominent Jew
in the UK to call for recognition of legitimate Palestinian rights –
he did so in an article for The
Times in 1978; and he was the first
rabbi to initiate dialogue meetings between Judaism, Christianity
and Islam when the Regent’s Park mosque opened in the same year. But
what I liked about him most of all was the quite rare thing he had
in common with my dear friend Ilan Pappe. He was without a trace of
the self-righteousness that is the hallmark of Jews everywhere who
have been brainwashed by Zionist propaganda.
He is also a thought-provoking author. His
books include The
Jewish People, Their History and Their Religion, The
Divided Self: Israel and the Jewish Psyche,
and, in 2012, This (Zionism
in action) Is
Not the Way.
In his review and endorsement of the latter, Avi Shlaim, a leading
Jewish “revisionist” – meaning honest – historian, wrote this.
Ethical Zionism? With due respect to Rabbi Goldberg (and Avi Shlaim),
the gentile me believes there could never be such a thing. From the
beginning Zionism’s engine drivers knew their assertion that
Palestine was “a land without people for a people with land” was
propaganda nonsense, a grand deception. So I think it can be said
without fear of contradiction that Zionism, founded in the knowledge
that it would have to resort to ethnic cleansing to achieve its
goal, never had a moral compass.
I think it can also be speculated that the discovery of a moral
compass by a significant majority of Israeli Jews would mean the de-Zionization
of Palestine that became Israel and thus the end of Zionism. Why?
Proof that a moral compass had been discovered would include as item
number one an acknowledgement of the wrong done to the Palestinians
by Zionism and acceptance of the need to right the wrong. Zionism is
never, ever, going to put itself out of business.
But even if Rabbi Goldberg did allow himself to entertain some
wishful thinking about the possibility of Zionism becoming grounded
in Jewish values (I presume he meant progressive, reformist, modern
Jewish values), that would not detract from the significance of his
very courageous and most profound statement: that it may be time for
Judaism and Zionism to go their separate ways.
The year 2001 was clearly not the time and 13 years on a provocative
question seems to the gentile me to be in order.
Why should Judaism unshackle itself from Zionism?
One part of the short answer is that the
credibility of Judaism is being undermined by Zionism’s contempt for
its moral values and ethical principles. In that sense there’s a
case for saying that Zionism is a threat to the survival of Judaism.
(The detailed case was made by Auschwitz survivor Hajo G. Meyer, an
anti-Zionist Dutch national of German-Jewish origin, in his 2007
Ethical Tradition Betrayed, The End of Judaism).
Also to be noted in the context of the paragraph above is that
Zionism’s founders were secular. Their only interest in Judaism was
using its idea of God as an estate agent.
The other part of the short answer is
signalled by the title of my book, Zionism:
The Real Enemy of the Jews.
Israelis must be aware that the price of their misconduct is
paid not only by them but also Jews throughout the world. (Yehoshafat
Harkabi, former Israeli director of military intelligence)
Today the message of that title is being
underlined by a rising, global tide of anti-Israelism. Contrary to
what Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and those of the
neo-fascist tendency to the extreme right of him assert, this rising
tide is not,
generally speaking, a manifestation of anti-Semitism (meaning
prejudice against and a loathing of all Jews everywhere just because
they are Jews). It is a manifestation of concern and anger provoked
by the Zionist (not Jewish) state’s arrogance of power and
insufferable self-righteousness. And it is happening because more
and more people of all faiths and none, including a still smallish
but growing number of Jews, are beginning to see Israel for what it
really is: the oppressor and not the victim.
The danger for the Jews of the world is
that anti-Israelism could be transformed into anti-Semitism, setting
the stage for Holocaust II, my shorthand for another great turning
against Jews everywhere, and starting quite possibly in America. A
warning of this danger was issued by Yehoshafat Harkabi, Israel’s
longest serving director of military intelligence, in his 1988 book Israel’s
Fateful Hour. He wrote:
Harkabi also had a message for Jews throughout the world.
If Harkabi was alive today I would suggest to him that in an updated
text “Likud policies” should be replaced by “the policies of the
neo-fascist right and the racist religious zealots”.
Peter Beinart recently noted that
As Harkabi explained in a chapter titled “Nationalistic Judaism”,
religion in Israel was marginal and did not attempt to influence or
guide Zionist policy until after the I967 war. Because of their
mistaken belief (the product of one of Zionism’s biggest propaganda
lies) that Israel’s existence was in danger on the eve of that war,
very many religious Jews were inspired to interpret victory as “a
manifestation of God’s intervention”; and to conclude that “the
conquest of parts of the historic land of Israel cast a brilliant
light on the Zionist enterprise”.
What Harkabi described as the awakening of a nationalistic Judaism
was a slow and evolving process which has led to what he called
“national religious extremism” demanding and getting a leading role
in Zionist policy making.
Harkabi concluded his chapter on nationalistic Judaism with a
statement about the need “to avert a crisis in Judaism” and
“alleviate the blow to the Jewish religion when the political
position of annexation of Judea and Samaria supported by religion
comes to grief”.
The latest expression of despair about the
reticence of American Jews to speak their minds was that of Allan C.
Brownfield in an article for Issues,
the journal of the American Council for Judaism, of which he is
editor. Under the headline “On the growth of religious extremism in
Israel: a challenge to its American friends”, he wrote:
Brownfield then quoted the answer to that
question given by Paul Krugman, the Princeton economist and New
York Times columnist: “The truth
is that like many liberal American Jews – and most American Jews are
still liberal – basically avoid thinking about where Israel is
going.” Krugman’s explanation of why was “the high price for
speaking out”, which is “to bring yourself under intense attack from
organized groups that try to make any criticism of Israel’s policies
tantamount to anti-Semitism”.
The irony… is in the fact… that if they continue to support
Israel unconditionally and continue to be silent on Israel’s
policies of oppression, the Jews of the world, in America and
Europe especially, will lay themselves open at some point to a
charge of complicity in Zionism’s crimes. And that would greatly
assist the transformation of anti-Israelism into anti-Semitism.
Fear of being condemned and reviled by Zionism’s verbal hit-men and
possibly ostracized is undoubtedly one reason for the silence of the
majority of American and European Jews.
Another is that arguments about Israel and its policies can and does
tear Jewish families apart, separating parents from children,
husbands from wives and brothers from sisters.
Another is ignorance of what Zionism has done and is still doing in
Palestine that became Israel. For very many American and European
Jews, Zionism means nothing more than Jews from anywhere exercising
their right to return to their God-given, ancestral homeland. (For
this article I’ll leave aside the fact that Israel/Palestine is not
the ancestral homeland of most Jews of the world today.) In other
words, most American and European Jews have no idea that Zionism is
an ethnic cleansing process in action.
Then there is what I believe to be the main reason for the silence
of most Jews. Deep down, perhaps only in their sub-consciousness,
they believe, because of their history and Zionist conditioning,
that Holocaust II is a real possibility. In that light they see
Israel as their refuge of last resort, their insurance policy. So,
they tell themselves, do nothing and say nothing that could assist
Israel’s enemies and put that insurance policy at risk.
The irony, perhaps the most tragic irony in all of human history to
date, is in the fact (perhaps I should say probability) that if they
continue to support Israel unconditionally and continue to be silent
on Israel’s policies of oppression, the Jews of the world, in
America and Europe especially, will lay themselves open at some
point to a charge of complicity in Zionism’s crimes. And that would
greatly assist the transformation of anti-Israelism into
anti-Semitism. This is the essence of the case for saying that the
Jews of the world have a vested self-interest in distancing
themselves from the Zionist monster.
Question: Will they ever do so in big enough numbers to cause
Judaism and Zionism to go their separate ways?
If reason based on the facts as they actually are in
Israel/Palestine was allowed to prevail, the combination of
self-interest and moral necessity ought to be enough to guarantee a
“Yes” answer. But could it be that it’s already too late because
most Jews of the world, conditioned by their history and Zionist
propaganda, are and will remain beyond reason on the matter of
justice for the Palestinians?
I don’t pretend to know the answer to this question. I am only
Under the headline Eradicating
Gideon Levy’s latest article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz ought
to be required reading for all Jews everywhere. It includes this: